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Dwarf Fortress Cities update
June 1, 2011 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Toady One started with generating cities. That turned into cities with rivers and castles. Cities need sewers, and sewers means catacombs and dungeons. Catacombs and dungeons means undead creatures, which leads to necromancers and obviously, immortality. From there, it's only a few steps to werebeasts, specifically werelizards.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to link to Toady One's blog posts, so start reading from 04/04/2011 and marvel at his train of thought
posted by Cloud King (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have spent hundreds of hours playing Dwarf Fortress over the last few years, and am glad to have donated funds. I wish I had half the drive/passion/dedication about anything that TO displays working on this game.
posted by curious nu at 4:20 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and since it's not in the post, previously on metafilter (in case someone doesn't think to click on the tag).
posted by curious nu at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2011


If I can't play a game, it's usually because I'd need to upgrade my computer. I think that, in order to play DF, I'd need to upgrade my brain.
posted by lekvar at 4:26 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fact that there's a "screenshots" tab on the top navigation part of the Dwarf Fortress website seems like wanton cruelty.

God what an amazing project, though. I have tried several times to play, and apparently I just don't have it in me. But just the idea of what is being tinkered with and produced here never fails to fill me with awe and curiosity. Like curious nu said: I wish I could focus on anything in my life with that kind of single-minded, lasered intensity.
posted by penduluum at 4:28 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talryth is my favorite tileset.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:33 PM on June 1, 2011


Awesome:
"Toady One I starved a dwarf and it came back (as a friendly undead peasant...). To avoid crossing various streams, animated corpses now keep track of the historical figure that was the source of the raised body, even though the historical figure's soul is detached from it (and available for ghostage). So relatives can still be properly horrified by a raised body without it actually being the person in question, and they might be haunted at the same time, oddly enough, provided that evil region animation continues to have nothing to do with the soul stuff. This'll also let it animate multiple severed body parts separately, though it'll also need to understand not having a central body part before that'll work. It would be cool to have arms crawling around though."
posted by kaibutsu at 4:39 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I still can't get over the fact that he generates an entire history of the world and that something like a race of elves worshiping a dragon that raided their town 5000 years ago can and does happen
posted by Cloud King at 4:40 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


My partner read this entry out loud to me the other day:
I finally got myself transformed into a weregoat, pumped up with enough axe skill that I could bifurcate my attacker after the switch. Then I walked into the keep, and the lord kind of freaked out and tried to stab me with a boning knife, but I managed to bite him and verify that the curse passes on a second time (he won't transform until the next full moon since it takes two weeks for the curse to kick in).
WEREGOATS.
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:43 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


THERE GOAT. THERE CASTLE.
posted by 7segment at 4:48 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, in case anyone is wondering, these cool features aren't available in the one currently up for dl, 0.31.25. He's talking about the cool stuff that he's working on for the next release.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:49 PM on June 1, 2011


WEREGOATS.

Next: Weregoat cheese.
posted by yeloson at 4:49 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I grow up I want to be a werecastle.
posted by loquacious at 4:55 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weregoat leather thongs!
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:55 PM on June 1, 2011


I haven't played dwarf fortress in forever, but I still check Toady's development page because it's so damn hilarious. And it makes me happy just to know such a thing is being made.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:03 PM on June 1, 2011


The problem with Toady is that if I were to sit down and write a novel in the form of a fantastical video game development changelog it would now just read like a ripoff of Dwarf Fortress' implementation notes.
posted by cortex at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I haven't played dwarf fortress in forever, but I still check Toady's development page because it's so damn hilarious. And it makes me happy just to know such a thing is being made.

Same here. I can't actually play DF any more, because it's become incomprehensible to me, but I keep the devblog on my RSS because it's a consistent joy to read about.

I might try Adventurer Mode at the next full point release, though. It sounds a lot less complicated than dealing with all those crazy dwarves.
posted by rifflesby at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2011


The thing that flipped the switch for me was the transition into 3d several generations ago. I had been playing for a while, dying, enjoying the deaths, starting to finally feel like I understood the idiom. It's incredibly complex but it's also stochastic in really helpful ways; once you give up on controlling everything, you can start getting an intuitive sense of what your inputs actually do, which is really the hurdle any game has to leap.

And I took a break for a month or so and all of a sudden: the third dimension. And I couldn't make my experience, like ... fit. I couldn't translate it into 3d, into seeing the mountain as stacked levels. It totally disagreed with the way I was mentally orienting my world, and I couldn't make it work. I couldn't see it anymore. And it stopped being fun, sort of. I didn't want to invest the time in it again, to relearn. It made me sad to watch it wheel off into the distance, without me. I love it only conceptually now, not experientially. Perhaps it's better for both of us.

Because: cities? Man that would have blown my shit directly up.
posted by penduluum at 6:48 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Add me to the "I am so glad this exists" list. It's a generator of interesting stories, and part of it reminds me of how videogames play in fiction. There's a Samuel Delaney novel - Titan - where two characters play this incomprehensible boardgame that sounds AWESOME but is so convoluted it couldn't possibly exist. Or those old TV shows where videogames are things like 'but you didn't use the silver on the dragon!' 'ah, but i got the boots of jumping!' only worse.

Dwarf Fortress and Nethack is those things, only real.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:17 PM on June 1, 2011


I had never really heard of Dwarf Fortress before, or at least not in any other way than knowing peripherally that something called Dwarf Fortress which was probably some kind of roguelike existed.

I have the strong sense from comments here that I will never really play this game. Hell, I don't play games generally any more, and if I were going to start back up it probably wouldn't be with something that requires tremendous effort to usefully comprehend. But this post intrigued me enough to download it, and it's obvious from the first handful of screens that this is a serious, devoted labor of love.

Maybe I'll just try adventurer mode long enough to get frustratingly killed by the first random monster I encounter or something...
posted by brennen at 7:19 PM on June 1, 2011


I might try Adventurer Mode at the next full point release, though. It sounds a lot less complicated than dealing with all those crazy dwarves.

I haven't kept up too well with new releases, but the everything I've done since the 3D updates has been worlds easier than the older versions. Kids these days don't even have to workout floodgate farming anymore.
posted by Copronymus at 7:19 PM on June 1, 2011


If the game seems incomprehensible, but you're interested, give yourself a half hour or so with the quick start guide on the df wiki. It may start to make a bit of sense.
posted by Pants! at 8:14 PM on June 1, 2011


Love love love this game. I'm afraid to start playing again because it consumes time like nothing. You start building things and man you have projects and todo lists. But man, when you finally get that mechanical artificial waterfall machine going and your dwarves have happy thoughts...gah. Please don't let me boot this up again...
posted by CrazyJoel at 9:56 PM on June 1, 2011


I love building a dwarven water reactor, but those happy thoughts from the artifical water fall come with a high cost in frame rate.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:26 PM on June 1, 2011


At some point Dwarf Fortress turned into the video game equivalent of Finnegans Wake - completely opaque, but deeply rewarding for those who finally manage to comprehend it.

Indeed to my mind it is the best contender for the position of video game as art I've ever seen. Toady One lives on a modern variation of the patronage model, living entirely on the voluntary donations of those who wish to support his art.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 11:41 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The last fortress I ran was last fall. I had this awesome marble tower rising out of a three-level deep artificial moat, which was filled by water pumped up from the large underground cavern I'd created. The cavern had a diverted channel from the nearby creek that powered a series of waterwheels, which in turn pumped magma up from the depths to power my smelters, kilns, and forges.

The water from the moat fed into a waterfall over the entrance to my fortress, which 1) I thought was pretty damn cool, and 2) served to keep the dwarves from tracking blood all over the damn place. Auto-shower!

Except... the game handles freezing kind of strangely. As soon as winter hit, the entire moat froze solid. Okay, fair enough. Not hurting anything, and I had a wall around the moat, so no big deal. But the waterfall also froze solid. I had kind of expected this, but figured that spray freezing wouldn't hurt anything.

Wrong.

The game interprets spray as being a tile filled partially with water. But when water freezes, it magically turns into a tile completely filled with ice. So instead of a gentle freezing mist falling to the ground, massive ice boulders plummeted down six stories, through the entryway, and about ten levels into the fortress below. It's a miracle no one was killed, and the noble who had been hanging out in his room, which happened to be the ultimate resting place of all this crap, was admirably unfazed. But I kind of lost interest, as the thought of figuring out a way of dealing with the physics of the thing so that that never happened again was just too daunting.

Awesome game, but... I think I've gotten out of it what I wanted to.
posted by valkyryn at 2:32 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spending endless midnights trying to understand Dwarf Fortress is the one true way to play Dwarf Fortress.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:59 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Dwarf Fortress, but it could be so much better if only TO could bring on some more devs to help with the gameplay issues he's not interested in --- things like user interface, balance, purpose, etc. Imagine DF with Minecraft's rendering engine.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:25 AM on June 2, 2011


ARGH Why can't he stop the obsessive simulation building for one month to build a proper interface or at least allow others to do so. If he did.. oh man. I mean, look how big minecraft got. There is a market for absurdly complex simulation games, but meet the players half way here!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:22 AM on June 2, 2011


ARGH Why can't he stop the obsessive simulation building for one month to build a proper interface or at least allow others to do so.

There have been many threads about this on the Bay12 forums, and the answer is fairly clear: He doesn't care. He's totally happy doing what he's doing, and he has enough people supporting him that he's going to continue doing it.

Toady figures that the game is changing so much with every release, that he would have to do quite a bit of work to keep a UI sane and useable, and he just doesn't want to do that.

It might be better to think of the user interface as a debugging tool that he lets us play with. Learning Dwarf Fortress is a bit like learning a very high-level programming language.

Adventurer Mode is much, much simpler to learn, and has gotten much more interesting with the past few releases, so that might be a good place to start.
posted by free hugs at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adventure Mode Quickstart Guide
posted by free hugs at 9:07 AM on June 2, 2011


There's a Samuel Delaney novel - Titan - where two characters play this incomprehensible boardgame that sounds AWESOME but is so convoluted it couldn't possibly exist.

What was it called - 'Arkham Horror' or 'Mansions of Madness'?

love those games, I do, but I'm still figuring out if I'm actually playing them right
posted by FatherDagon at 10:42 AM on June 2, 2011


ARGH Why can't he stop the obsessive simulation building for one month to build a proper interface or at least allow others to do so.

free hugs gets it: because stopping the simulation building for an interface upgrade would essentially mean stopping the simulation building, period.

Interfaces are complicated. In essence, they involve taking all the complexity that's built into a program and making it easy to get to. So they have to be, on the back end anyway, at least as complex as the program is. Otherwise you either 1) lose functionality, or 2) shunt people outside the interface, which defeats the purpose. This is kind of why a lot of Linux users still control their computer with the command line despite having one--or multiple!--desktops open: the GUI restricts their ability to efficiently control the machine.

Adding a GUI or better "graphics" to DF would mean building a system on top of the actual game engine which translates every single bit of what the system can do. Not only does this represent an incredible amount of work on the front-end, but it means that every single change from then out would need to be coupled with a corresponding change to the interface, effectively doubling the time involved for every addition to the game.

Really, this is why Blizzard games are so popular: they've put a huge amount of time into the interface, with the result that there is almost nothing one could hope to do (except group more than a dozen units together, dammit!) which is not contemplated by the interface.

DF opts for the opposite extreme: you're looking at what amounts to the game engine with a bare modicum of tools on top of it. Just enough to let you actually interact with the system and no more. This lets the game engine do a maximal number of things.

But a lot of games land somewhere in the middle, i.e. the engine can do stuff, but the interface makes doing lots of it either difficult or impossible. A skilled designer can turn that impossibility into a gameplay feature, e.g. revealing additional sectors of the map as the mission progresses, but it's more likely that the limitations would just be annoying.

Remember the X-Wing games? They're all pretty solid games, as far as space simulators go, but each game improves the interface with additional functionality to the point that going from X-Wing: Alliance back to the original X-Wing is maddening. "Why can't I target the thing that's targeting me? Why can't I target the thing that's shooting at my target? Why can't I redistribute my shield charge in a single stroke?" But other than better graphics, the gameplay of each new game didn't actually change at all. No real new elements were ever introduced, just incremental additions to the basic concept.

I think TO has the right of it here. An interface would really only be appropriate once the game is basically finished, and since we're nowhere near that point, letting us fend for ourselves is really the way to go.
posted by valkyryn at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There actually have been a couple of really useful additions to the interface in recent versions of DF. There's a proper logging system now, and you can make key macros. I suppose that the people who complain about the interface are really referring to how hard it is to see what's going on at a glance. That sort of problem is normally solved by implementing animations, which would have to be done frame-by-frame, and then redone when the nature of e.g. cooking is changed in a future release. Quite wasteful.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:15 PM on June 2, 2011


I keep wanting the interface to be more vi-like.
posted by brennen at 4:19 PM on June 2, 2011


Also Dwarf Therapist is pretty much a must-have. It makes managing labors quite a bit easier.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:43 PM on June 2, 2011


Interfaces are complicated.

There are a lot of really low hanging fruits for improving the DF interface. Stuff like doing the SDL right so that it doesn't chew up 100% of the CPU on Linux (a busy loop polling for events!!!), or using the mouse to position the cursor and navigate menus. These things would take maybe a couple of days to fix.

Toady doesn't want to do this stuff? Great, but why not let someone else do it? I reject the notion that UI can't be separated from the game engine, allowing both to be developed at the same time. It just takes cooperation.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:22 PM on June 2, 2011


Toady doesn't want to do this stuff? Great, but why not let someone else do it? I reject the notion that UI can't be separated from the game engine, allowing both to be developed at the same time. It just takes cooperation.

Where'd I put that Free Software drum? I feel like it's asking for a beating.
posted by brennen at 8:37 PM on June 2, 2011


Toady has accepted help in the past on things like implementing SDL and multithreading, but freeing the source is not going to happen - the game is his labor of love, being forced to cooperate on its development would defeat the purpose. Some clones do exist though - previously.
Everyone would benefit from some kind of API to replace the hackish direct memory access used by all the alternate interfaces that the DF community has created (including Toady, who would be freed from messy interface stuff to work on all the great things outlined in the devblog) but my understanding is that it's a huge mess of legacy code, most of it dating back at least to 2D DF.
Personally I'd settle for having coffins be the same key on the workshop and build menus. Somehow I can never get that right, even though I build so many of them...
posted by marakesh at 10:33 PM on June 2, 2011


Interfaces are complicated
I'm not talking an isometric view with dynamic shadows.
Just mouse support.

I'll take the tip about adventure mode, though.
I did enjoy playing it (although the OCD part of my brain was always wasting time trying to clear up the blocks that were EVERYWHERE. That would probably be on my DF wishlist at number#2 - to make "crappy" rock only leave stuff behind a small fraction of the time.

I can't recall how much time I spent devising complex schemes involving elaborate rock crushing pits with access shafts down all levels of the fortress for dumping rock into all to try in vain to keep the dungeon TIDY.

Maybe I should just try and settle for a small but efficient dungeon. A population cap enforced by death chambers.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 12:47 AM on June 3, 2011


Dillon, try building stone floors everywhere. They'll speed up traffic just the same as smoothed floors, and they'll give the loose stone someplace to be.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:39 AM on June 3, 2011


I can't recall how much time I spent devising complex schemes involving elaborate rock crushing pits with access shafts down all levels of the fortress for dumping rock into all to try in vain to keep the dungeon TIDY.

Quantum stockpiling to the rescue!

You can stick an infinite number of objects in a garbage pit. If you "reclaim" them once they're there, you can make a vastly more efficient means of organizing your stuff and cleaning up the fort. You also give your excess labor something to do with their time...
posted by valkyryn at 5:12 AM on June 3, 2011


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